This Wordle Clone Might Just Be the Most Challenging Yet

This Wordle Clone Might Just Be the Most Challenging Yet
Screenshot: Jake Peterson

At this point, Wordle needs no introduction. The game not only inspired many of us to enjoy guessing words every day, it also inspired a wave of clones and spin-offs, some of which were just as fun as the original. This latest one, however fun, turns up the difficulty dial to levels I’m not sure I’m comfortable with.

This latest entry is called Semantle, a portmanteau of Semantics and Wordle. That’s because, rather than have you guess a word based on its spelling, or sort through the box office top five, or even figure out songs from short clips, Semantle has you decipher the hidden word based on how semantically similar it is to your guess.

Every time you enter a new word, you’ll see a similarity score, as well as a rating, such as “Hot” or “Cold” (so far, by the way, all my guesses have been stone cold). Semantle gives you an initial similarity score for what it calls the closest possible word, as well as for the 10th-nearest and 1,000th-nearest words, so you always know how close or far away you are. For example, the closest word today has a score of 77.18, 45.62 for the 10th-closest, and 23.25 for the 1,000th-closest. My closest guess so far had a score of 8.94. I think I’m almost there.

You aren’t given any clues, hints, or even a theme to go on, so your first guess is always 100% a shot in the dark. It’s a bit like machine learning: You throw out a random guess, then weigh that guess against the real deal. You throw out another random guess, and weigh that against the real deal. In theory, you start to find guesses that are closer to what you’re looking for, until you finally arrive at the right answer. In theory.

Here’s an example of a previous day’s word (don’t worry, it’s no spoiler, since you cannot go back and replay old games). The secret word was “rocket.” Similar guesses would have been: rockets, missile, missiles, launcher, spacecraft, spaceship, spaceward, unpiloted, interceptor, projectile, etc. Unless you sensed a space theme, it might have taken you a long time to work your way into that sphere.

So far, my experience with Semantle has been nothing short of a failure. But it’s an interesting twist on the Wordle-esque genre. Maybe, with enough guesses, I’ll finally find that 1,000th-closest word. That, in itself, would be victory enough for me.


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